24 February 2012
Raja Petra Kamarudin
Dear voters of Sabah and Sarawak,
First of all, I initially intended to write this letter in Bahasa Malaysia, which means I would need someone to help me translate it. However, I was told that many of you are proficient in English and actually visit English language websites rather than Bahasa websites (Sabah and Sarawak readers represent 5% of Malaysia Today’s total readership of almost half a million). So allow me to continue in English.
The purpose of this ‘open’ letter is to state my stand on various issues. You already know my stand on the Oil Royalty issue, which I wrote about on 7 February 2012 (EPISODE 1: How East Malaysia and Terengganu were robbed of their wealth). I also included Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah’s statement on video (EPISODE 3: Ku Li talks about the mysterious plane crash in Sabah) about the tragic and mysterious plane crash that wiped out half of Sabah’s cabinet at the height of the oil royalty negotiations, which I was told had broken down.
Now, let’s move on to the next issue.
On the status of Sabah and Sarawak, we must remember that on 31st August 1957, the Federation of Malaya (Persekutuan Tanah Melayu) was formed, which was a union of three groupings: the Straits Settlements, the Federated Malay States and the Unfederated Malay States.
For all intents and purposes, the Federated and Unfederated Malay states were independent states (the Straits Settlements were British Colonies) or at least were given a perception of independence. The British in those states were just advisors. Nevertheless, whether the Rulers in those states were obligated to take the advice of the British, or they could ignore it, is an issue which historians are still debating till today and they will all probably go to their graves without coming to any consensus.
I would sum it up by saying that the Rulers were not obligated to take the advice of the British Advisors. However, knowing what the British are like, they have ways of persuading the Rulers to take the advice. Gunboat diplomacy is one persuasive method that comes to mind. Another very persuasive method would be to support a pretender to the throne in the many power struggles (even today it is still happening in some states) and once there is a change of regime the new Ruler would be obligated to listen to the British who had put him onto the throne.
Nevertheless, the British in the spirit of diplomacy never demonstrated force. Persuasion was the order of the day. And I am sure that when Sabahans saw what happened to those who resisted the federal government’s move to take the state resources and just throw back 5% to the state as royalty, the new Sabah regime was ‘persuaded’ to accept the 5% and shut the fxxk up.
Anyway, back to the issue of the Federation of Malaya. As I said, 11 states under three groupings merged into a union. While the Americans call theirs a union, the British preferred the term federation. I suppose the British hate the Americans for losing the war so they did not want to be seen as copying the Americans. Hence we became the Federation of Malaya rather than the Union of Malay States or the United States of Malaya.
But that was what we really were, the United States of Malaya. And that would mean other than matters involving security, defence and foreign policy, the rest are state matters and under the power of the states. Certainly we cannot have the Selangor Police Force like they do in the US. We cannot have a State judiciary with different laws across states. Kelantan also cannot declare war on Thailand or Johor on Singapore. And so on. But the rest comes under the states.
Now, what has happened over 51 years from 1957 to 2008 is as follows. Most states at most times were under the ruling party in Parliament. Except for Kelantan and Penang (from 1969 to 1973), the states were federal-ruled. (1978-1990 Umno ruled Kelantan). Hence, it meant that the states were forced to subject themselves to the federal government.
No doubt, there were times when the states did try to demonstrate their independence from federal rule. The state Menteri Besar would sometimes defy the Prime Minister, like what happened in Selangor once when they resisted the takeover of Putrajaya to turn it into Federal Territory.
Then what happened to this Menteri Besar? He was forced to resign due to a sex scandal. Honestly, if sex scandals are reasons to force a Menteri Besar to resign then the only Menteris Besar or Chief Ministers still in office would probably be in the Pakatan Rakyat states.
Yes, the state CEO does not defy the PM. To do so would mean you get forced out of office, if you don’t first die in a plane crash. And why do you think Dr Mahathir Mohamad appointed Ministers who are corrupt and have scandals and skeletons in their closet? Are you so stupid that I need to answer that question?
You can’t control a clean person. A tainted person can be kept in line. All Dr Mahathir had to do was to show this person the thick file he has on him or her and that person will submit to whatever the Prime Minister says.
And that was why Sabah and Sarawak got a raw deal. The CEOs you have for your two states are tainted. They can go to jail for 1,000 years if the federal government releases its dogs on the Chief Ministers of your two states.
Do you think that the CEOs of Sabah and Sarawak dare oppose the federal government? Do you think that the CEOs of Sabah and Sarawak dare fight for the rights and interests of Sabahans and Sarawakians? Do you think that the CEOS of Sabah and Sarawak have a death wish?
Hence, there would be no way you people of Sabah and Sarawak can get a better deal as long as Barisan Nasional is in power in the states. You can oust Taib and Musa Aman if you wish. But as long as the replacement is still from Barisan Nasional, then another tainted man will take the throne because only tainted people can be controlled. No way will Barisan Nasional appoint someone like Nik Aziz of Kelantan to become the Chief Minister of Sabah or Sarawak, not while your two states have so much wealth, which the federal government wants to rob.
Okay, let’s now talk about the new Federation, the Federation of Malaysia. I have explained that the Federation of Malaya was a union of 11 states under three groupings. Then, the Federation of Malaya negotiated with Sabah, Sarawak, Singapore and Brunei to form the Federation of Malaysia.
Hence the Federation of Malaysia was a new union of five nation-states -- a Federation or Union of Malaya, Sabah, Sarawak, Singapore and Brunei.
Brunei did not want to join because they knew they would be swallowed up. Singapore joined but Lee Kuan Yew insisted that he become the Prime Minister of Singapore. He did not want to become the Chief Minister of Singapore like how Tunku Abdul Rahman wanted.
The Tunku was furious. Malaysia can’t have two Prime Ministers, argued the Tunku. The Tunku was the Prime Minister of Malaysia so Lee Kuan Yew has to be the Chief Minister of Singapore, not the Prime Minister of Singapore.
The solution was simple: if Lee Kuan Yew wants to become the Prime Minister of Singapore then Singapore has to leave Malaysia. Then he can even become the King or Emperor of Singapore if he wants to.
And that was why Singapore left Malaysia. Some historians say that Lee Kuan Yew purposely raised the issue of becoming the Prime Minister of Singapore because he knew that this could not be accepted and hence that would mean Singapore would have to leave or get kicked out of Malaysia.
Whatever it may be Lee Kuan Yew’s argument was that Singapore is at par with Malaya, not at par with Selangor, Perak, Johor, or whatever. This meant Singapore is above the 11 states, not just one more state of 14 states.
And would this not also apply to Sabah and Sarawak? Is Sabah the 12th state and Sarawak the 13th state of Malaysia? Or are the 11 states below Sabah and Sarawak and Sabah and Sarawak equal to Malaya?
The 11 states have Chief Police Officers. Sabah and Sarawak have Police Commissioners. And the Police Commissioner gets to fly the state flag on his official car. Does this not show that Sabah and Sarawak are above the 11 states?
Bahasa Malaysia Bibles and the use of the word Allah are banned in the 11 states of Malaya but not in Sabah and Sarawak.
Lawyers from Malaya can’t practice in Sabah and Sarawak unless they first obtain a permit. They do not need to do the same to practice in Selangor, Perak, Johor, etc.
So you see, Sabah and Sarawak are not equal to Selangor, Perak, Johor, etc. Sabah and Sarawak are not the 12th and 13th states of Malaysia. Sabah and Sarawak are equal to Malaya.
But all these years since 1963, Sabah and Sarawak were treated as merely two of the 13 states of Malaysia. And this was able to happen because Barisan Nasional rules your states and Barisan Nasional is also the federal government. Hence the federal government can do what it likes to Sabah and Sarawak. However, if Sabah and Sarawak had opposition state governments -- like in Selangor, Kedah, Penang and Kelantan -- then Sabah and Sarawak will, again, be independent states although still members of the Federation or the United States of Malaya.
Can you now see where your destiny lies? Stop screaming and foaming at the mouth. It will get you nowhere. And you don’t even need to talk about getting out of Malaysia like what Singapore did. All you need to do is to vote in a state government that is independent of the federal government and you will automatically gain your independence.
My suggestion is for Sabah and Sarawak to become a third force, but one united third force (such as a North Borneo Alliance). You can, of course, enter into an electoral pact with Pakatan Rakyat if you want. In fact, this may actually be a good idea. Do what the LibDems in the UK did. They let Labour and Conservative fight it out and then they became the kingmaker.
Whether Barisan Nasional or Pakatan Rakyat forms the Federal government is not your worry. Your worry should be that Sabah and Sarawak are independent of both. Even if Pakatan Rakyat forms the federal government you still want to be free of federal domination. If you ‘belong’ to Pakatan Rakyat then you will not be too free to demand what belongs to Sabah and Sarawak.
That, in a nutshell, is my message to the voters of Sabah and Sarawak. And you better quickly get your act together because the next general election may be as early as next month and not later than June this year.